House of Commons Hansard #421 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.


Resuming debateExtension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member will have four minutes and 45 seconds when debate on this matter resumes.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Diabetes Awareness MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON


That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize that one in four Canadians is living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and, without treatment, diabetes can result in life-threatening complications, and that diabetes awareness and education can help identify early signs of diabetes and prevent onset for millions of Canadians, and that as the birthplace of insulin, Canada should be a leader in diabetes awareness by declaring November of every year as Diabetes Awareness Month.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Motion No. 173, which seeks to raise awareness and education of diabetes as an important step in defeating this terrible disease that impacts the lives of so many Canadians.

More than 11 million Canadians are impacted by this epidemic. Every three minutes, another Canadian is diagnosed with this terrible disease, which is a major cause of strokes, heart attacks, kidney failures and lower limb amputations. The rate of diabetes is extremely high for our first nations population living on reserve.

Diabetes occurs when a person's body is unable to produce or use insulin, the hormone that controls blood glucose levels. If left untreated, serious complications can occur, which can even lead to premature death.

Awareness and education cannot only help these people remain healthy, but it can also help to identify early signs of diabetes and prevent onset for millions of Canadians. This is why I am introducing my motion to mark November as diabetes awareness month. With a month dedicated to public education about the influence of diabetes, Canadians have an opportunity to grow and learn.

This important public health issue is already being recognized by domestic and international groups.

November, in particular, is a good choice as World Diabetes Day is presently held globally every November 14 and is recognized as an official United Nations day. This is the world's largest diabetes awareness campaign, reaching a global audience of over one billion people in more than 160 countries. The campaign draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public and political spotlight.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects Canadians of all ages. Each year, close to 200,000 Canadians are newly diagnosed with diabetes and approximately 90% of those are type 2. Presently, about three million Canadians are living with diagnosed diabetes. With the growth and aging of the Canadian population, the number of Canadians living with diabetes is expected to continue to increase in the coming years.

Some Canadians are at increased risk of diabetes, such as South Asians, first nations and Métis people and immigrants. There are higher rates of diabetes among Canadians with lower incomes and education.

Type 2 diabetes and many other chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases, are largely preventable. Scientific evidence demonstrates that by eating healthier, increasing physical activity, moderating alcohol use and not smoking, the onset of many chronic diseases can be prevented or delayed.

That is why the public health community in Canada and internationally has moved away from disease-specific approaches, instead adopting approaches to address the common risk factors for chronic diseases. The World Health Organization Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2013-2020 is a blueprint for such an approach.

Complex public health challenges such as chronic diseases, including diabetes, defy single solution approaches. No organization, institution or sector of society acting alone can solve this challenge on their own. All segments of society, communities, academia, the charitable and not-for-profit sector and the private sector must work together if we are to be successful.

Educating and encouraging policies that support people with diabetes and those working to prevent it has been my priority since being elected in 2015.

As a health care professional for 18 years, I came to Ottawa well aware of the burden that diabetes had placed on our country and was very motivated to work toward finding long-term solutions.

That is why I was honoured to become chair of the all-party diabetes caucus. There we have learned more about the extreme hardships and enormous demands on our health care system caused by diabetes.

ln November 2018, we engaged fellow parliamentarians to participate in "Diabetes Day on the Hill" in order to raise awareness of diabetic risks to Canadians and to build support for an updated comprehensive national diabetes strategy. Last year, a diabetes mobile screening unit was brought in to emphasize the diabetes prevention aspect.

Locally, in my community, I sponsored a similar proclamation for the City of Brampton in 2017. There has been increased interest among local stakeholders and community organizations in acting on diabetes during this time and throughout the year. Many cities and municipalities observe November 14, and now it is time to raise awareness across the country.

When looking at the increasing personal and economic hardship that diabetes had on families and the negative impact on our health care system, it became clear to me that something more had to be done and that our national strategy on diabetes had to be updated. That was why I encouraged the Standing Committee Health, which I am very proud to serve on, to help find new solutions. I am grateful that my colleagues from all parties share my beliefs, which is why they agreed to study the diabetes strategy in Canada and abroad.

Diabetes is a complex disease with many causes and risk factors, so our study was comprehensive. We heard from many expert witnesses, patients and international experts on how Canada could best address the diabetes epidemic. It is clear that Canada needs a framework to coordinate the efforts of the provinces and territories to treat diabetes, to share best practices, to integrate the perspectives of the patients and to leverage opportunities for partnerships.

The World Health Organization recommends that every country implement a national diabetes strategy. However, Canada has been without one, despite having one of the highest rates of diabetes among the world's most developed nations.

After this study was completed in April, I was honoured to sit by the chair of the Standing Committee on Health in this chamber as he tabled a report. It called on the government to make such a strategy for our nation and take firm action toward diabetes prevention and support. In total, we made 11 recommendations to the government. This report will go a long way in combatting diabetes.

This report was a first step; my motion is the next. Furthermore, I have taken many more steps over the years to raise awareness for fellow Canadians about diabetes.

In 2017, I travelled extensively to consult medical professionals about how best to meet the needs of those suffering from diabetes. This gave me even greater insight into how diabetes impacted communities in different regions of Canada. The result of this was the publication of the report, “Defeating Diabetes”, which promotes healthy eating as a prevention method.

In October 2017, I represented Canada, along with a colleague, at the Global Diabetes policy forum in Italy. Thirty-eight countries were represented. We talked about the best way to tackle this growing issue. I also attended the World Congress of Diabetes in Calcutta, India. Through engagement with international leaders, we were able to compare research and assess our commitment to the fight against diabetes.

Based on these experiences, it is my strong belief that increased awareness and education is a necessary first step in reaching our goal of a national strategy to slow the incidence of diabetes and eventually eliminate it. I also believe that to succeed, we must all work together regardless of our political affiliation.

Among many formal events that have allowed me to learn more about this disease, I also successfully initiated small-scale projects and challenges, which have encouraged my colleagues and residents of Brampton South to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

In November 2016, I published tips for MPs for staying healthy. In January 2017, I organized and encouraged 40 MPs to post healthy New Year's resolutions.

During the 2017 Diabetes Day on the Hill, I challenged my fellow parliamentarians to defeat diabetes one step at a time. Nearly 100 parliamentarians accepted the challenge and wore a pedometer for 10 days to log their efforts to be healthier.

The Government of Canada is also investing in innovative community-based programming and public education to test and scale up projects that help to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and encourage healthy living choices. By coordinating efforts across governments, we are beginning to see that progress.

Early in our mandate, the Government of Canada took action to help Canadians eat healthier. As I mentioned earlier, healthy eating is very important in helping to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes. Earlier this year, I am proud to say this government updated and published a new Canada food guide, based on the best evidence available, to promote healthy eating. Also, just last year, federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation released “Let's Get Moving”, a new common vision to address physical activity and reduce sedentary living. This work represented an important milestone for governments and was the culmination of three years of work by officials, including working with federal, provincial and territorial health officials, the non-government sector and indigenous organizations.

The provinces and territories are also key partners in health surveillance to better understand the impact of chronic disease and risk and protective factors. For instance, in collaboration with all provinces and territories, the Public Health Agency of Canada conducts national surveillance of diabetes and 20 other chronic conditions to support the planning and evaluation of related policies and programs. The pan-Canadian health inequalities reporting initiative includes new insights into how diabetes impacts different groups of Canadians in different contexts, and products including an interactive online data tool and a narrative report on key health inequalities in Canada. This initiative is a partnership between the Public Health Agency of Canada, the provinces and territories, Statistics Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the First Nations Information Governance Centre.

The government collaborates with the jurisdictions on digital health through Canada Health Infoway. Specific to diabetes, Canada Health Infoway has collaborated with our provinces and territories on remote patient monitoring. In addition to collaborating with our provincial and territorial partners, the Government of Canada recognizes that innovative solutions and partnerships with health and other sectors are needed to better address the complex challenge of chronic disease prevention, including diabetes. This approach is rooted in the idea that we are all working towards a shared goal of producing better health outcomes for all Canadians.

However, more can always be done. Let us combat this disease and its life-threatening complications by making our citizens familiar with diabetes warning signs, encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and making it possible to access the best quality of care.

In closing, I would like to thank my colleagues from all parties for their support on this issue, which has been so important to me for much of my adult life. I want to thank them for their non-partisan and collaborative support to improve awareness and education and in this way improve the lives of so many Canadians suffering from diabetes. I believe we can achieve some great things here if we work together and keep the best interests of Canadians in mind.

Canada gave insulin to the world, improving the lives of millions of people. There is no reason we cannot lead the fight to defeat diabetes. This is why I am tabling Motion No. 173 to designate the month of November as diabetes awareness month in Canada and respectfully ask for the support of all my colleagues in this Parliament.

Diabetes Awareness MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Brampton South for this motion and for her tireless advocacy on behalf of those suffering with diabetes.

I was on the health committee that brought forward that unanimous report with recommendations. One of those recommendations was that the government support Diabetes Canada in its diabetes 360° plan. Diabetes Canada approached the government to ask for $150 million, which is the amount it would cost to implement the plan, and the government gave zero dollars.

Can the member explain why the government did not give Diabetes Canada support for its 360° plan?

Diabetes Awareness MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for her support for the 360° strategy. I have worked on that with the health department. We have to do our part. Maybe this time there are other important issues and we have been working hard on those. I am a big supporter of the diabetes 360° strategy, which is a framework for nationwide collaboration to reduce the burden of diabetes on Canada and Canadians.

I hope my colleague and I will be able to work together on that issue and that next time we will be successful.

Diabetes Awareness MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague for her hard work on the health committee. It is a privilege to serve with her on that committee.

Diabetes is a very common illness affecting many Canadians, and there is much to be done when we approach this issue from a health perspective. One of the things we as a House ought to look at are the foundational issues beneath this. The issue I want to talk about is universal public pharmacare.

At the health committee we heard heartbreaking stories of people with diabetes who simply cannot afford the insulin and medical devices they need, such as the glucose monitors, insulin pumps and insulin, which we have heard is more expensive today than it was when it was invented many years ago.

New Democrats are proposing a national comprehensive universal public pharmacare system, so that all Canadians can get the diabetes treatment they need without regard to their ability to pay. I am wondering if my hon. colleague shares that opinion. Would she agree with the NDP that we need to bring in public pharmacare so that all people suffering from diabetes in Canada today can get the treatment and medicine they need without regard to their ability to pay?

Diabetes Awareness MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very thankful for my colleague's support. Right now the Government of Canada is making investments in research, prevention and early detection of diabetes. We have taken good steps already in improving nutrition labelling and banning industrial trans fat. That is a big step we have already taken, but there is always a need to do more.

We heard from witnesses at the health committee that 22% of people are not getting their prescription medications, which are absolutely necessary for diabetes. Untreated diabetes leads to serious consequences and even life-threatening situations.

As the member knows, the prescriptions that are needed are covered in some provinces and not in others. We give 11 recommendations at the health committee, and that is why this motion is for awareness and education. I urge my colleague to work together with me to combat this serious issue.

Diabetes Awareness MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Motion No. 173 designating diabetes awareness month. The motion reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize that one in four Canadians is living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and, without treatment, diabetes can result in life-threatening complications, and that diabetes awareness and education can help identify early signs of diabetes and prevent onset for millions of Canadians, and that as the birthplace of insulin, Canada should be a leader in diabetes awareness by declaring November of every year as Diabetes Awareness Month.

It is a pleasure to rise to speak on this very important topic. We have already heard that the health committee, of which I am a member, studied diabetes and came up with 11 fulsome recommendations. As part of raising awareness about diabetes, I want to explain the different types of diabetes that exist. There are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 is an autoimmune disease in which an individual's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, thereby leaving the individual dependent on an external source of insulin for life. Type 1 diabetes typically arises in individuals under 40 and makes up about 10% of people with diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and the body does not properly use the insulin it makes. While the onset of type 2 diabetes typically occurs in adults over 40 years of age, it can occur in younger individuals and is seen even in children and youth. Approximately 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

Then there is gestational diabetes, which occurs when hyperglycemia develops during pregnancy. Although elevated glycemic levels disappear following delivery, women diagnosed with gestational diabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes within five to 10 years.

We talked a bit about the recommendations that came from the health committee, and I want to get into the diabetes 360° plan. It is an excellent, very cohesive plan. The 360° comes from a series of targets that include the figure of 90%.

The first is to have 90% of Canadians live in an environment that prevents the development of diabetes. We know some of the causal factors: fitness and activity, reducing obesity, diet, etc.

The second is to have 90% of Canadians aware of their diabetes status. There is simply not enough screening across the country, and many people who have type 2 diabetes especially are unaware. I appreciate that the member for Brampton South brought Diabetes Canada here with testing kits for all parliamentarians, so we can know that we do not have diabetes.

The third is to have 90% of Canadians with diabetes engaged in preventing complications. Those with diabetes who either do not adequately take their medications or do not watch the other causal factors can have many health complications, resulting in amputations, hospitalization and very serious chronic consequences.

The final target is to have 90% of Canadians who are engaged in preventing complications achieving improved health outcomes.

That is what this diabetes 360° plan is all about. The experts at Diabetes Canada, through consultations with stakeholders, put that together. The goals are worthy.

That said, I have to point out the hypocrisy of the Liberal government. It is not the hypocrisy of the member for Brampton South, because she has definitely been an advocate for this. After unanimously recommending that the government fund this plan, for which they were asking for $150 million, the Diabetes Canada folks said in the summary of the plan that an investment of $150 million would save $20 billion in prevention alone.

It is unthinkable that the government gave zero dollars for this in budget 2019. It is absolute lack of recognition of the fact that 11 million Canadians have diabetes or pre-diabetes, a third of the population. It is a huge issue. It would have paid for itself. There was a $19.8 billion deficit in budget 2019. This failure to make an investment in the health of Canadians was a big miss on the part of the government.

The other thing I would say is that diabetes is a disease where if someone does not have the medication they need, including syringes, as we heard a lot of testimony about at the health committee, they can really suffer and develop chronic, disastrous results. It seems that a government that would buy heroin and syringes for drug addicts but not support syringes and medication for people with diabetes is just not fair. It just does not seem right. I am not arguing that one is not worthy; I am just saying that it does not seem fair, especially when the prevention of diabetes is critical to maintaining health.

One of the things that was interesting in this diabetes 360 report is the inequities of diabetes. Interestingly, first nations people living off reserve are twice as likely to have diabetes. South Asian adults are 2.3 times more likely than white adults to have it. Black adults are 2.1 times more likely than white adults to have it. The marginalized populations are especially at risk of diabetes. I think there is something to be done there as well.

In terms of what actions we should take to try to eliminate diabetes, prevention, physical activity and addressing issues like food security and knowledge about nutrition are important, as is screening, so that people are aware of their diabetes and are getting the right treatment. Many people suffer from the shortage of doctors across the country, which is something that needs to be addressed. We certainly cannot begin to address people's diabetes problems if they cannot even get to see a family doctor. I would say that research as well is important.

There is good news on the horizon. Simon Fraser University has been doing research in this area and developed what looks like a computer chip, but is really an injectable stem cell patch. The stem cells retrain the body to secret insulin correctly. This is currently in clinical trials, from babies to adults, and four of these treatments will eliminate diabetes in a person. This is fantastically interesting research and something that would revolutionize the costs in the health care system and the lives of people living with diabetes. It would just be an amazing thing.

One of the things that will be required as we move forward is to make sure that we are still investing in that kind of research, and once that research comes to fruition that we can commercialize it and get it into the health care system really quickly.

There are also medical devices, like meters that monitor people's glucose levels, and insulin pumps that automatically deliver it, that could really transform an individual's ability to live with diabetes in a way that would certainly allow them to be much more normal.

The other issue I want to address in the last minute is my concern that the government did something with the disability tax credit that was not good. Members will remember that 80% of the people with type 2 diabetes who were approved for that tax credit, suddenly, last May were unapproved. Although we raised numerous objections, only 50% of those cases have been reconsidered. If they are not approved for the disability tax credit, people cannot be approved for the disability pension plan. There are a lot of people out there who are suffering.

One of the recommendations from the health committee is to reduce the amount of time required to be eligible for the disability tax credit. That is something we would like to see the government do.

In summary, I am happy to support this diabetes awareness month and to continue to work across the aisle to make sure that we can eradicate this disease in Canada.

Diabetes Awareness MonthPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise on behalf of my New Democrat colleagues and support this motion that would declare November of each year as diabetes awareness month.

Canada's New Democrats strongly believe that the federal government must do more to support Canadians living with diabetes, particularly those who incur significant out-of-pocket costs as a result of this chronic disease. If we failed to ensure that every Canadian living with diabetes can afford to access insulin, it would certainly be a missed opportunity on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin in Canada.

However, the reality today is that many Canadians living with diabetes are unable to afford the medications, devices and supplies they need. This cost-related non-adherence can lead to avoidable complications and needless mortality. It also adds unneeded costs to our medical system.

Canada's New Democrats believe there is an urgent need for a universal, comprehensive and public pharmacare plan to ensure that all Canadians have access to the medications they need when they need them. This must include coverage for diabetes devices and supplies, such as test strips, syringes, insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, in addition of course to life-saving insulin.

Individuals with diabetes cannot regulate their blood sugar properly. Diabetes causes many physical health issues and is the cause of death of more than 7,000 Canadians every year. It also affects the mental health of people who have diabetes, as well as their families.

Most people in Canada, over 90%, living with diabetes have type 2. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not respond properly to the insulin it produces. Treatment includes medication and lifestyle changes to diet and exercise routines.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. Someone with type 1 diabetes will always have to use insulin, either through daily injections or an insulin pump.

In 1921, Dr. Frederick Banting, Charles Best, James Collip and their supervisor James Macleod discovered insulin in a University of Toronto laboratory. This discovery revolutionized the treatment of diabetes worldwide and remains among the most celebrated medical discoveries in Canadian history. However, today many Canadians living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are unable to afford the medication, devices and supplies they need.

According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Canada, a population-based study in Ontario that tracked 600,000 patients found that roughly 830 young and middle-aged patients die each year from lack of access to insulin. On the other hand, according to a brief from the 100 Campaign, Santé Diabète, T1 International and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, as many as 5,000 deaths in Ontario alone could have been prevented by universal drug coverage for people with diabetes.

Here are some key facts and figures.

The prevalence of diabetes in Canada has doubled over the last decade. In Canada today, 11 million people live with prediabetes or diabetes. Every three minutes, someone in Canada is diagnosed with this progressive chronic illness.

The life expectancy of a person with diabetes is shortened by an average of 13 years. By 2028, it is estimated that over 13 million Canadians, or 32% of our population, will have diabetes or prediabetic conditions. Diabetes contributes to 30% of strokes, 40% of heart attacks, 50% of kidney failures requiring dialysis, 70% of non-traumatic leg and foot amputations and the largest proportion of cases of blindness in people under the age of 50.

The full cost of diabetes to the health care system in 2018 is estimated to be an astounding $27 billion. If the proliferation of this disease continues, by 2028 the price will exceed $39 billion.

More disturbingly, a recent report by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions found that 57% of Canadians with diabetes reported failing to adhere to their prescribed therapies due to affordability issues related to medications, devices and supplies.

People living with type 1 diabetes can pay on average up to 17% of their annual income on diabetes. People living with type 2 diabetes typically pay on average up to 9% of their annual income. About 18% of people with diabetes report having difficulty getting insurance because of their disease.

That puts into perspective the government's delay and failure to bring in national universal and comprehensive public pharmacare, which has been called for by the NDP for several decades now. The Liberals promised to bring it to Canada in 1997 and have done nothing but talk about it for the entire four years of their administration. While the Liberals have dawdled, Canadians have become sicker and many have died. That is why it is a shame that the Liberals have refused to pay attention to the urgency of universal pharmacare that the New Democrats have repeatedly brought to the House.

Internationally, although the World Health Organization recommends that every country have a national diabetes strategy, Canada's previous strategy fizzled away in 2013, this time under the Conservative watch, following a scathing report on its underperformance by the Auditor General.

Canada's New Democrats believe that the federal government must support the development and implementation of a new national diabetes strategy based on the diabetes 360 framework that was developed in 2018 by Diabetes Canada and dozens of other stakeholder groups, and should facilitate the creation of type 1 diabetes and indigenous-specific strategic approaches, with the latter to be led and owned by indigenous communities.

Furthermore, Canada's New Democrats believe that the Government of Canada must support indigenous-led diabetes programs, services and research priorities and prioritize food sovereignty; provide access to appropriate care, treatment options, traditional healing and medicine; and raise awareness about gestational diabetes and the increase in diabetes among young indigenous women. Diabetes is rising fastest among indigenous people in this country, and primarily among indigenous women.

In addition, Canada's New Democrats believe there is an urgent need for a national approach to pharmacare that would ensure that all Canadians living with diabetes have access to the medications they need when they need them. This must include coverage not only for insulin but also the devices we talked about.

Our health committee heard heart-rending stories from real people about their challenges living with diabetes, people who have woken up in intensive care and did not know how they came to be there, because they went into a diabetic coma when they were sleeping. We heard stories about people who said that by landing in intensive care for three days, they cost the system more money in those three days than the cost of providing them free insulin for their lifetime.

We heard stories from Rowan Burdge of British Columbia, who said that she had to leave Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan after discovering big differences in what provincial health plans cover. Again, the Canada Health Act is supposed to provide equal coverage for Canadians as one of its bedrock five principles so that all Canadians everywhere can get the coverage they need. However, that is not the reality in Canada today, because successive Conservative and Liberal governments have failed to enforce the Canada Health Act or bring in universal pharmacare.

Rowan told us that she spent more than $70,000 over the last 10 years just to keep herself alive with the insulin she needs to treat her type 1 diabetes. She said that she had extended health benefits through her job but that her plan excluded insulin, and her additional insurance is capped at $7,000 annually for her treatment needs.

Charlene Lavergne has been living with type 1.5 or type 2 diabetes for 43 years. She told us:

I'm 63. [If I had universal pharmacare coverage] it would mean that I could look forward to seeing my four granddaughters [grow up] and I could live with less anxiety and less stress. I would know that it was there for me. I wouldn't have to scramble. I wouldn't have to just about sell my socks for stuff. Having the right insulin too; that's the key. I need to have the right insulin, not the cheapest stuff on the market.

Basically [public pharmacare]...would give me hope, and it would give me a little bit more cash so I could eat.

Those are the kinds of stories we are hearing from real Canadians. This is who the NDP fights for. This is why we will not stop until we bring universal comprehensive public pharmacare to every Canadian, just like the NDP brought health care to every Canadian.

Diabetes Awareness MonthPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Speaker, Motion No. 173 speaks to an important public health issue that affects millions of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Motion No. 173 calls on the Government of Canada to recognize the month of November every year as diabetes awareness month. Canada has a proud history in the science related to diabetes with the discovery of insulin, dating back to 1920. This motion proposes that we continue to be a leader in diabetes prevention, awareness and education to help prevent or delay the onset of this disease for millions of Canadians.

While the focus of this motion is for one month, diabetes has implications for the health of Canadians all year long. Raising awareness and helping Canadians understand what they can do to avoid the onset of diabetes is both timely and important. Diabetes happens when the body loses its ability to produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that controls blood glucose levels. When it goes undetected, or if action is not taken to keep it in check, serious complications can happen. Even worse, for some it can lead to premature death. This being said, it is possible to remain healthy with diabetes, when a person has access to the information and tools to manage it.

We know that there are three types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is not preventable. Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women and usually disappears after delivery. Approximately 90% of diabetes cases in Canadian adults are type 2. Type 2 diabetes is preventable through changing behaviours, such as healthier eating and being physically active.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, about 3 million or 8.6% of Canadians have diagnosed diabetes. A further 4.1% of Canadians have an elevated blood glucose level, which can be a precursor to this chronic disease. The pan-Canadian health inequalities reporting initiative, a research collaboration among federal, provincial and territorial governments and other partners, also tells us that some Canadians are more susceptible to diabetes than others in the general population. For example, this study tells us that men, Canadians over 40, first nations and Métis, and Canadians with lower income and education levels have higher rates of diabetes than other Canadians.

We know that people living with diabetes can face greater challenges to fully participating in the economic and social life of Canada. What we also know is that type 2 diabetes shares a set of risk factors with other chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. These risk factors can be addressed by making changes in our everyday life, which means that something can be done to delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Motion No. 173 speaks of the importance of awareness and public education to help prevent diabetes. Helping Canadians learn more about the positive impacts of healthy eating, physical activity, not smoking and drinking less alcohol in preventing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, is what a diabetes awareness month could be all about.

However, is it enough to simply know that eating better and being physically active can help prevent diabetes? We need to ensure that Canadians of all backgrounds and in all regions have the opportunity to access healthier foods; we need to help them find the time to be and stay more physically active, and help them stop smoking.

The Standing Committee on Health recently released a very informative report called “A Diabetes Strategy for Canada”. Very astutely, the committee recommended that the Government of Canada “explore options to improve public awareness and education on diabetes, particularly through community programming, including public awareness of the relationship between nutrition and diabetes.”

I am pleased to say that this government is taking a comprehensive and proactive approach to promote healthy living and prevent chronic diseases, such as diabetes, as proposed by my colleagues at the health committee in their recent report. This comprehensive, overall approach includes policies, activities and investments that would help Canadians sit less, move more, eat healthier foods and stop smoking.

If the House concurs, a diabetes awareness month could play a key role in helping Canadians access more information on diabetes that our government makes available and activities to help Canadians lead healthier lives. For example, this government has been working with the provinces and territories to collect surveillance data on chronic diseases and their risk factors, and in learning how diabetes and its risk factors may impact different groups of Canadians.

The government also invested $47 million in 2017-18 through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to advance research on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all forms of diabetes. The government is working with research partners on diabetes-related research activities through CIHR's pathways to health equity for aboriginal peoples initiative, Canada's strategy for patient-oriented research, and a new partnership to defeat diabetes with JDRF Canada.

Knowing about one's risk for chronic disease, such as diabetes, is also key to helping people take action to prevent illness. The Public Health Agency of Canada, in collaboration with partners, developed and promotes a diabetes risk questionnaire called CANRISK. This tool helps Canadians understand their level of risk in developing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

The Government of Canada is also investing in innovative community-based programming and public education to test and scale up projects that help prevent chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and encourage healthy living. Through its healthy living and chronic disease prevention multi-sectoral partnerships program, the Public Health Agency of Canada has not only invested $112 million, but also leveraged $92 million in non-governmental funding in 49 projects across Canada to give these projects greater reach and impact. Over 1.9 million Canadians who have participated in projects funded through this program have become more physically active and are eating more healthy foods. Some projects have helped Canadians stop smoking, which is important.

One project of note is providing funding of $25 million over five years to Participaction to increase the daily amount of physical activity among Canadians. Participaction is engaging communities across the country through events, a national and fun multimedia and digital campaign, and regional partnerships to get Canadians to move more and sit less where they live, work, study and play.

Early in our mandate, this government took action to help Canadians eat healthier. As I mentioned earlier, eating healthier is very important in helping to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes. Through the healthy eating strategy, led by Health Canada, we have eliminated the use of trans fats and are working to improve nutrition labelling on food, among other actions. I am proud to say that earlier this year, the government updated and published a new Canada food guide, based on the best evidence available, to promote healthy eating.

The Government of Canada also works to help Canadians who may need greater assistance to access healthy food and to gain food literacy knowledge, skills and practices. We continue to support programs such as the Canada prenatal nutrition program and nutrition north Canada, and we continue to work on improving these programs to make healthier foods more available and more accessible.

We know that smoking is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, as it can increase blood glucose levels and lead to insulin resistance. We recently announced a renewed Canada's tobacco strategy, which establishes a number of activities to achieve a target of less than 5% population-wide tobacco use by 2035.

As I mentioned earlier, we know that some Canadians face greater challenges than others to delay and prevent chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and to live as healthily as possible when living with diabetes. This is especially the case for first nations, Métis and Inuit populations.

Our government recognizes the interplay of a number of factors that contribute to the high rates of diabetes in indigenous communities. My honourable colleague, the Minister of Indigenous Services, is working closely with provincial, territorial and indigenous governments and partners to address the prevention and management of chronic diseases, in particular diabetes, and to support indigenous-specific approaches.

For example, in 2018, through extensive collaboration, a guidance framework entitled “Preventing and Managing Chronic Disease in First Nations Communities” was completed. This framework provides broad direction and identifies opportunities to improve the access of first nations individuals, families and communities to culturally relevant services.

Motion No. 173 reminds us that we can all do more to communicate actions to help delay or prevent disease onset. It reminds us that we can do more to create the conditions in all of our communities to make the healthy choice the easy choice for all Canadians.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Brampton-South for bringing the motion before the House, and I am grateful for the opportunity to speak about this important issue.

Diabetes Awareness MonthPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for using her private member's hour to put forward Motion No. 173. Dedicating November as an awareness month would bring much-needed attention to this terrible disease, which inflicts millions around the globe.

Everyone in this chamber knows someone who has either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is not something that is happening to other people in some far-off place; it is happening right here in our own communities. We know how the disease negatively impacts their quality of life, and in far too many circumstances it can lead to serious medical conditions.

While we still do not have a cure, in most cases people are able to treat and manage their diabetes. Due to the generosity of Canadians, millions of dollars in research have helped scientists and doctors make significant medical breakthroughs. Their discoveries have resulted in new and innovative therapies for the prevention and treatment of diabetes. It is my sincere hope that one day we can develop a cure and alleviate entirely the suffering of those who struggle with this disease.

While some progress has been made, the number of people across the world suffering from diabetes has quadrupled in the past 30 years. In many respects, we are failing to reverse this trend. Even though preventative measures such as having a healthy diet and staying active are good deterrents, there are still no guarantees.

For those who have diabetes, the insulin and the specialty diets people must eat can get very expensive. There are significant costs people must absorb, and that is why I found it disturbing when the Liberal government started to deny diabetics from claiming the disability tax credit. While proclaiming a diabetes awareness month is good and all, when rubber hits the road, the government has unfairly treated thousands of Canadians who suffer from diabetes.

I want to share the story of a young lady who came to my office in Brandon. Kelsey Levandoski contacted me after the Liberals denied her claim for the disability tax credit. Kelsey was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 8, and she knows first-hand the challenges of living day to day with her diagnosis. She reached out to seek help and to try to convince the government to fix the mess it created.

Kelsey was frustrated to see her claim be denied, but she was also thinking about others who found themselves in the same situation. In fact, she mentioned that she was worried about those with lower incomes. She was concerned about how they would be able to manage after this very ill-thought-out decision.

While she estimates that managing type 1 diabetes could cost up to $1,500 a month, through her health coverage at work, she is still spending $300 out of her pocket. She must purchase syringes, insulin, glucose meters and test strips to manage the disease. After totalling that up for the entire year, that is a tremendous cost for a person to absorb.

Kelsey followed the regulations and after consulting with her doctor, she met the criterion of 14 hours per week laid out by the Canada Revenue Agency. For some unknown reason, and after dodging a multitude of questions, the Liberals still have not given us any reason for why they denied her and many others.

If the Liberals thought they could get away with it, they were sadly mistaken. While they attempted to dodge responsibility and pretend there was nothing to see here, they were quickly called out. It was soon afterwards that despite their denials, they had indeed changed how the CRA applied the eligibility criteria.

Even the Senate committee on social affairs studied this issue and tabled a report with 16 recommendations calling on the government to simplify the application process and clarify the eligibility criteria. I sympathize with and understand the frustration of many Canadians when the Canada Revenue Agency does not provide any justification for why they were denied.

While the Senate report was issued over a year ago, still nothing has been done. It begs the question: What will it take to get the Liberals to start acting on the recommendations?

The Liberals completely ignored the concerns of Diabetes Canada and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and they are continuing to drag their feet. They have given the cold shoulder to those who are clearly eligible to claim the disability tax credit.

While we succeeded in overturning CRA's decision for Kelsey, it is unfathomable that the Government of Canada would treat people like this. I thank Kelsey for bringing this issue to my attention. The total sum may not seem like a lot of money to some, but to her and many others, it certainly is.

I was taken aback by those who reached out to my office to express their anger at the Liberals over this decision. I was also very moved that Kelsey's father took the time out of his busy schedule to come to my office to let me know that he appreciated all that we did for his daughter. I never thought we would ever see the day when the government thought it was okay to give million-dollar handouts to big corporations and yet think it would be okay to target those who lived with diabetes.

While I will always go to bat for my constituents, I want this issue resolved and fixed immediately. Just yesterday, there was a media report that the disability advisory committee was demanding CRA explain why there was a 53% spike in rejections for various individuals claiming the disability tax credit. According to the committee, it has documentation that says the number of rejected claims for disability tax credits rose by 53%.

To fix this injustice once and for all and to ensure the Liberals never treat diabetics like this ever again, my friend, the Conservative member from Calgary Shepard, introduced the fairness for persons with disabilities act. His legislation would amend the Income Tax Act to reduce the number of hours necessary to be eligible for the disability tax credit and to expand the activities that could be used to calculate that time.

These common sense changes would improve the existing law, as it would say, in black and white, that people who managed their illness at least three times a week, for a total duration averaging not less than 10 hours a week, would be eligible for the disability tax credit. Furthermore, it would list that the intake of medical food and medical formula could be used to calculate the total time needed to manage the disease.

The bill would be enshrined into law so that someone like Kelsey would never have to worry again about a future Liberal government denying her ability to claim this tax credit. It would assist thousands of Canadians who suffer from diabetes and stop politicians stripping them from accessing this tax credit.

That is where we find ourselves.

I hope the hon. Liberal member moving this motion is taking her own government to task in how it has treated diabetics. If the Liberals will not listen to me, Kelsey or even Diabetes Canada and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, I implore them to at least listen to their own caucus members.

A diabetes awareness month is a start, but it is not the end. It will not immediately help those who need it and it certainly will not get the Minister of National Revenue to do something about it. However, I am in support of diabetes awareness month being put in place.

I want my Liberal colleagues to go into caucus tomorrow morning and get their government to expedite the changes for which my friend from Calgary Shepard has called. They should stand up for their constituents, stand up for what is right and stop reading the talking points the Prime Minister wants them to articulate.

Treating diabetics with respect and allowing them to claim the disability tax credit is not a partisan issue. Let us pass this motion and hopefully by next week, we can stand in the House and tell Kelsey and all Canadians who suffer with diabetes that we have heeded their call.

In the short time we have left before Parliament ends, we should rise to the occasion and not take no for an answer. Canadians are watching and they expect results.

Diabetes Awareness MonthPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The time provided for the consideration of the motion has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

The House resumed from February 27 consideration of the motion.

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Pursuant to Standing Order 30(7), the House will now proceed to the consideration of Motion No. 111 under private members' business.

The hon. member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands has eight minutes left from his original speech.

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, it is great to be here today. Everyone should be celebrating Mennonite heritage week.

As I get a little further in my political career, I tend to focus a little less on policy and more on the people it impacts. Certainly, I have a large Mennonite community in my riding. These folks have very similar qualities. A lot of them come from a rural background. Many of them immigrated here from Europe about 100 years ago. They are known for being frugal, thrifty and generous. As well, they are known for being inventive and entrepreneurial. Typically, they are known for having a very deep faith.

I want to thank my colleague from Abbotsford for bringing forward this motion and giving me a few minutes to speak it.

I would like to speak about one person who I met over the years. He is a leader in the community in Swift Current and comes from Mennonite heritage. His name is Frank Rempel. He was born in 1924, which puts him in his 95th year. The other day I was talking to him while he was driving down the highway. He was frustrated because he was only able to go 103 kilometres, trying to stay under the speed limit on a Saskatchewan highway. His comment to me was, “I'm thinking that maybe I need to buy another airplane and fly it”, so he did not have to go as slow.

He is one of 10 children born in Swift Current to a Mennonite family. He was born in the time of the three bottom plow, which was pulled behind the oxen. It typically had three blades and turned the ground over.

It was a time of celebration for many people. Families were big in those days and Christmas was a time for family gatherings. It was also a very difficult time in our part of the world as we moved into the 1930s, with the tumbleweeds, dust and dirt on the fence lines. Certainly, Mr. Rempel lived through that.

In those days, family was really all people had. They had very little beyond that. The kids went to school and learned to get along there, usually in a one-room schoolhouse.

Mr. Rempel started to work when he was very young. At 14, he went with his father and brother to Coaldale, Alberta to stack hay all summer. That is what they did to make enough money to keep their family on the farm. They did trapping in the winter and things like that. He said at that at the age of 14 or 15 he learned how to make a saddle, which he sold to his brother. That was when he learned about the word profit. He is a very successful business person, so he learned that word well.

He travelled to and worked in many different places. In 1942, he met a young woman named Helen. He was 18 and she was 14. He had to wait, and so he did. He went out and did some things, like breaking in horses for a while. He said that after one particularly bad result, he was left wondering where he would have ended up if that had been his very last ride. In 1944, he rekindled that relationship. In 1945, he bought her a ring. In 1946, they were married. In 1947, they started a family.

After moving around a little back and forth, they resettled in southwestern Saskatchewan in 1953. He began a job as a mechanic. He got involved in his church a bit more. He stepped out in faith, bought a lot and built a grocery store. He and his wife sold the only truck they had to raise the money. It was all of $550 to buy the lot so they could begin to build their own business.

He has some great stories in his book called About our Father's Business. There are great stories about learning how to sell cookware, going out and selling it to housewives and being able to use that to keep his family going. They built the Hillcrest Shopping Centre and moved into that. He sold cars as well to keep it going. He mentions that he took the Dale Carnegie course along the way and thought that made a huge difference in his life. He did well at the store and in 1964 he and his wife sold it.

However, the real story of his success began when a neighbour came to him and wanted to sell him a chaff blower, a product that is used by farmers at harvest time. This person was manufacturing them. He came to Frank because he was good with his hands and was good at creating tooling and machinery. He asked him to take it over, so he did.

He and his wife began manufacturing and started their own business. They started in a 40 foot by 40 foot shop and formed what they called Rem Manufacturing. For the last 50 years in our riding, Rem has survived. Frank saw it not just as a business, but a calling for himself.

He added a number of lines of things, like dump wagons and vacuum feed blowers. He expanded into the United States market. In 1969, when business slowed down, it was really the United States' sales that saved REM Manufacturing.

Frank Rempel built harvester for forage plots for some of the agriculture research stations and sold those. Then he got into making coil springs. That might sound kind of strange for people, but since hardly anybody makes coil springs, he was one of the only ones who did that. He developed some new processes. To this day, he has 300 varieties of different hay rakes, bailer teeth, coil springs and those kinds of things. He sells them all over North America. His products go around the world. He bought a farm just a little outside of Swift Current, settled on it and he and his wife raised their family there.

Eventually Frank Rempel retired, but the interesting thing is that he is not done. He is in his nineties and he is still moving ahead. He is working on a small tractor. The initial genesis of this idea came when he really wanted to put another aspect of his faith into action and create something to which third world country farmers and developing country farmers could have access. Therefore, he was trying to make a tractor that had both attachments to the front and the back, that was a simple piece of machinery that people could then use and not have to spend a lot of time repairing and fixing it.

As I mentioned, he has written a book called About Our Father's Business. It is about a man who is committed to doing business well and committed to living in his small town and still continuing that rural way of life, someone who has been frugal, but has also been very generous. He has kept a number of schools and camps going over the years. He has put a lot of money into various places that he thought were important to support.

He has been an inventor. He has the coil spring business, but many other things right from when he was a young child. He is someone who has that Mennonite interest in things mechanical and inventing them, becoming a very successful entrepreneur. Most of all, I know he would want me to talk about the fact that his faith in Jesus Christ, as with so many people in the Mennonite community, is one of the driving factors of his entire life.

As I mentioned, he is in his 94th year. The other day I talked to him. He was driving down the highway just talking about having to stay under the speed limit. I know he loves to drive his car and he loves to get around.

This is just another example. I know I am at the end of my time. I wish I had more time to talk about him, but he is one example of so many of the people in my area of Mennonite heritage who have provided that leadership in their communities. They still live there. They have families who are important. They have been entrepreneurs and have been very faithful people in their community.

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

[Member spoke in Cree, interpreted as follows:]

Madam Speaker, and all my relations, I would like to thank the member of Parliament and colleague from Abbotsford and also the dynamic young MP from Kitchener-Waterloo for highlighting the work we do to build a more inclusive Canada and highlight the contribution of the Mennonite peoples.

Mennonite heritage week is important. Here is the motion:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize the contributions that Canadian Mennonites have made to building Canadian society, their history of hope and perseverance, the richness of the Mennonite culture, their role in promoting peace and justice both at home and abroad, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon Mennonite heritage for future generations, by declaring the second week of September as Mennonite Heritage Week.

The very first Canadian Mennonites arrived in the late 18th century, settling initially in Ontario. Today, almost 200,000 Mennonites can call Canada home. More than half live in cities and the largest number in the world live very happily in the beautiful city of Winnipeg, my Winnipeg.

In the 1870s, the Russification or assimilation policies of the Russian government caused 18,000 Dutch Mennonites, one-third of the total in Russia, to leave for North America. There was a promise of land, cultural and educational autonomy, and guaranteed exemption from military service. Almost 7,000 Mennonites came to southern Manitoba. Assimilation is an important word. Mennonites know this word, but others in Canada also have an understanding of this word. Peoples are so different, yet all can understand this word.

Around this time in 1869, my people were also living on the Prairies. Joseph Ouellette and Moïse Ouellette, his son, were farming and hunting bison in the Red River. They were also working with Louis Riel to secure the rights and freedoms of all people living in the Red River. They were proud Métis. They wanted to create a free society with a bill of rights, where it did not matter what religion you were, but you were simply free to live in peace.

The Canadian government wanted to settle the west. The almost free lands in the Northwest Territories attracted Mennonites from Prussia, Russia and the U.S. between 1890 and the First World War. Many of the new immigrants moved to Manitoba and the prairie provinces, and others created Mennonite communities in Saskatchewan and established congregations in Ontario.

Around this time in 1885, the Métis fought together in alliance with the Cree peoples. They battled against the Canadian government and the Canadian Army. Later, the Métis were forced off lands and, as Maria Campbell said, became road allowance people, simple day labourers working as hired hands on local farms throughout the west.

This was also a painful time for Mennonites. They were being forced into assimilation, having their farms seized a world away in Russia. They suffered during World War II. The largest immigration wave occurred in the 1920s when 20,000 Mennonites escaped famine and the effects of the Bolshevik Communist revolution. During the Second World War, more than 12,000 Mennonite “displaced persons or refugees” migrated to Canada from the U.S.S.R. and Germany, and most settled in urban areas.

I guess indigenous peoples, both Métis and Cree, are not too different from the Mennonite peoples. Mennonites fled countries to find freedom and indigenous peoples still fight for their freedom today because they cannot flee anywhere. There is nowhere to go.

I would like to end on a positive note and thank the work of people in the Mennonite community of Manitoba, who have been helpful in building reconciliation. They have done so in a way which is about relationships. “Reconciliation” is not a simple word. It is the bringing back of friendly relations and, in essence, making our views compatible together. This is very difficult and will require work on both sides.

The history of Canada is about a mixing between peoples. As our children live, work and marry together, they will build a society, a vision of president Louis Riel, of Chief Poundmaker, of old Chief Wuttunee. It must be a positive future.

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.


Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, it happens, but not often, that an NDP MP stands in the House and thanks a Conservative member of Parliament, and it is even rarer that a politician stands in the House of Commons and acknowledges their ignorance. This evening, I am going to do both.

I want to thank the the sponsor of Motion No. 111, the MP for Abbotsford, whom my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona told me is a “good egg”. His motion calls for the establishment of Mennonite heritage week and has given me an opportunity to find out more about the Mennonite community and its history in my riding and my province. In that research, I discovered how unaware I was of the many ways the Mennonite community has made a positive difference in the lives of the people of Saskatchewan, and specifically the lives of the people in my riding of Saskatoon West.

I am going to focus on one aspect of the motion, which says that we will celebrate during Mennonite heritage week “the richness of the Mennonite culture, their role in promoting peace and justice both at home and abroad”.

To save face just a little, it is not that I was unaware of the work I am about to highlight in my community, but unaware of the fact that many programs there have their very beginnings in the Mennonite community.

This year, 2019, the private refugee sponsorship program turns 40. For 40 years, Canadians have been opening their hearts, communities and their wallets to help refugees from all over the world come to Canada and start new lives. It is a program that has been modelled by seven other countries in the world. Today, the private refugee sponsorship program has welcomed and settled over 275,000 people over and above those refugees assisted by our government.

In 1979, the international development and relief agency of the Mennonite Central Committee negotiated a groundbreaking agreement to help Ottawa match Vietnamese families with private sponsors and bring them to Canada as permanent residents. This sponsorship agreement was signed in March 1979, and many would remember why many in Canada, including those from the Mennonite communities, were seized with this work.

After the Vietnam War, over one million refugees fled the war-ravaged countries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Those Vietnamese who took to the ocean in tiny, overcrowded ships were dubbed the “boat people”. The survivors sometimes languished for years in refugee camps. It was because of the response and the leadership of the Mennonite community in Canada that we were able to welcome over 60,000 refugees. It led the way for other churches and other communities to privately sponsor refugees to come to Canada. It was a first. Today, our ability to reach out to Syrian refugees as Canadians is because of the leadership of the Mennonite community, which sought a way to help those suffering from war to come to Canada and to safety.

In 2014, the Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan celebrated 50 years of great work and service to communities across Saskatchewan. Thanks to the coordinating efforts of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan, that history of great work has been preserved and is accessible on the Internet to everyone, even politicians in need of an education. This resource, where I learned of an organization I have worked with throughout my entire career at the United Way and now as a member of Parliament, had its roots in the Mennonite community.

For 21 years, the Global Gathering Place has been providing support and an array of services for newcomers, immigrants and refugees in Saskatoon. The Global Gathering Place is an important settlement service in my community and a critical organization that helps newcomers succeed, and it was started by the Mennonites in Saskatchewan. I am ashamed to say that I did not know of its beginning in the Mennonite community. However, 21 years ago, the MCC of Saskatchewan, with a small amount of funds, a box of toys, another box with coffee and supplies and one awesome woman, Belma Podrug, who started out as a volunteer on the steering committee, started the Global Gathering Place.

The Mennonite Central Committee of Saskatchewan supported the Global Gathering Place under its umbrella for several years until it became a stand-alone organization. To her credit, and lucky for us, Belma is still at the helm. The organization has grown a lot, providing more support to more newcomers, thousands of people, each and every year. Throughout my career at United Way and now as a member of Parliament, I have come to count on Belma at Global Gathering Place to help me help others.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is another initiative with its roots in the Mennonite farming community, and is rooted in the values of peace, co-operation and respect for human rights. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank started as the Mennonite Food Bank and in 1983, 15 other churches and faith-based organizations joined together and created the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. During the 50th anniversary of MCC in Saskatchewan, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank's work in Saskatchewan was celebrated, including the over $1.76 million donated to the work of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank from Saskatchewan, including over $500,000 from Mennonite churches.

This May, I was pleased to have a walk-and-talk meeting, walking and talking because I was in a rush and they were too, with Sol, Janessa and Holly who are constituents of mine and university student volunteers from World Renew, one of the partners with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. They came to remind me that they plan to vote in the next election and they wanted to know if I supported the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Canada's role in international development. They pressed me to continue to advocate for and support Canada meeting its international commitment to development funding of 0.7% of our GDP. I said I would. I want to thank Sol, Janessa and Holly for keeping the pressure on governments to follow through on this important commitment, and for their personal commitment to Canada's leadership in international development.

I want to close with my gratitude for the work of the Mennonite churches and the Mennonite Central Committee to support those in prison, human beings who many of us choose to forget.

The Micah Mission is an ecumenical, non-profit, faith-based organization in Saskatchewan that provides support to currently and formerly incarcerated people. The mission's beginning came out of the restorative justice work of MCC of Saskatchewan. The work has been done since 1974. The work is done predominantly on a volunteer basis. Some 50-plus volunteers offer their compassion and over 3,000 hours a year of their time to three programs that make up the Micah Mission ministry.

Person-to-person and community chaplaincy programs connect volunteers with individuals both within and outside correctional institutions, through visitation opportunities and support for transition back into the community. A third program, circles of support and accountability, works with people who have been incarcerated as sexual offenders and are transitioning back into the community. The intention is to address the risk of reoffence while keeping both the community and the formerly incarcerated individuals safe.

I have barely touched on the impact of the Mennonite community in Saskatoon West, but just thanking the community seems sort of small in comparison to the impact. I have never been a very good closer in ending my speeches. I would never make a very good salesperson. I thought I would close with the words from Ryan Siemens, who, during the 50th anniversary of MCC Saskatchewan, wanted to thank the Mennonite community for all its work.

He said:

Your ongoing support makes this possible. But it wouldn't happen unless folks felt a call in their lives to meet Christ in this surprising way. Yes we hear how the media portrays inmates, but when the stigma is removed, when the labels have been dropped and you are visiting, drinking coffee and eating a chocolate bar, you will see the person across the table is a human being, made in the image of God, in need of friendship and forgiveness, community and hope, just like the rest of us.

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, I am really happy to stand in this place today and speak in support of Motion No. 111, which was introduced by my colleague, the member for Abbotsford. The motion would establish the second week of September as Mennonite heritage week.

I am particularly pleased because of the way the motion came up in the House of Commons. I did not know if I would have the opportunity to speak. I am so grateful that it has come up today and that I could be here.

So much of what I have done in the House of Commons over the last 10 years has been pretty confrontational. Whether my job has been in government or in opposition, it has usually included mentioning other parties' names and talking about what they have been doing to hurt the country and what we have been doing to help the country.

Today, I am just going to talk about a wonderful group of people, the Mennonite people. It is not going to be partisan at all. It really feels good to be able to do that. I am especially proud to be able to speak about Canadian Mennonites and to be able to honour them, highlighting the wonderful things that Canadian Mennonites bring to our culture in Canada and truly bring to the world.

I am going to be speaking a bit personally about how important this motion is to Canadian Mennonites. I am from southern Manitoba and I am a Mennonite myself, although I never really had thought about myself as a Mennonite because I grew up in a Mennonite community with Mennonite parents but we always went to the Pentecostal church. Growing up in Warren, Manitoba, and going to the Pentecostal church, we were not quite considered Mennonites. We were a little charismatic. Of course, there is a range but Mennonites are very humble and are not overly expressive. We were seen as being a little bit out there, being Pentecostals.

As my hon. colleague from the NDP just talked about, what it really came down to was our faith in Jesus Christ, our belief in loving God, in serving God, and our common beliefs around our Christian faith. As I grew up, I was part of the Pentecostal church and many of my friends were part of the Mennonite church. We really were brothers and sisters in our faith, as well as many of the things that we believed were important.

It is only as I have gotten older, even being a member of Parliament here, where every day any time I can, I tell somebody that I am from a Mennonite background and talk about things like our history, our music, our food, our culture, our sense of humour and our compassion. When I say “our”, I mean so many good Mennonite people that I know. I am immensely proud to be a Mennonite, and so proud that this motion was brought forward.

When my colleague, the member for Abbotsford, was first talking about bringing this motion forward, we sort of joked about it, because Mennonites are typically very humble and do not want a lot of attention brought to themselves. If people were to look at the history of Mennonites, they would see how they have been victimized, persecuted and have risen above that persecution, but they have never asked for an apology or restitution. They never want accolades. They just want to put their head down, put their shoulder to the wheel, as it is, and just keep working hard for their families, for their community, for their God, for their country.

When the member for Abbotsford talked about bringing this motion forward, we sort of chuckled because we really were not sure if he was fully serious. We are Mennonites after all; we do not have Mennonite heritage week. However, I am so happy that he was serious. We very much support him in this motion. Even though Mennonites are humble people, I am really happy we can talk about Mennonites to the extent that we are today.

I want to talk briefly about some of the struggles that Mennonites had to face. Mennonites have migrated across Europe. They came out of the faith of a man named Menno Simons. Mennonites believed, and still believe, that baptism should happen as an adult, because adults can decide if they want to follow the Christian faith and want to be baptized. They are also very strong believers in peace, passivism and not going to war.

For those reasons, over many years, they had to migrate across Europe because they were persecuted. I want to talk a little about the struggles they had, because they were brought to Canada. In order to have a clear understanding around the struggles of the Manitoba Mennonite community specifically, I want to talk briefly about the history of them.

The very first group of Mennonites arrived in Manitoba from eastern Europe during the summer of 1874. Some of them are probably my ancestors. I am a fourth generation Canadian. My grandmas and grandpas arrived here when they were a year old or so, probably before 1874. They settled on reserves east and west of the Red River.

Between 1923 and 1929, over 25,000 Mennonites managed to immigrate and although more wanted to come, in 1930, the Canadian government closed the door to Mennonites. It goes without saying that our modern Canada was built by immigrants, many of them fleeing war, strife, persecution and economic devastation.

The Mennonites are certainly among that group of people who came to find refuge in Canada and it is the reason that Mennonites have been at the forefront and leading the way of private sponsors and helping refugees who are coming to Canada now.

Among other things, Mennonite church organizations, private business owners and in my riding of Portage—Lisgar, many private individuals have banded together and are supporting refugees who are fleeing from persecution in the Middle East and in other areas because they have such a strong sense of what it means to be persecuted the majority of times because of their faith. They have been at the forefront of welcoming refugees to Canada and helping them.

There are two particular groups of Mennonites that arrived in southwest Manitoba, 14 families in one and eight in another. These Mennonites arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs and Bibles in their hands. Although they had no money, they still managed to secure land without making so much as a down payment. Instead, they promised half of their gross annual income until the purchase price and interest were covered.

That is the way Mennonites did it then and do it now. They will set their mind to do something. Possibly it is a problem that they themselves need solved. They will find that solution.

I think of so many industries in my riding, for example. Mennonites who are farmers might have a problem with their equipment or something that is not working properly. They are incredibly innovative. They find a solution and they create a gadget to fix their combine or other type of tool. When a neighbour sees it, he will ask if one can be made for him because he really likes it. They sell it to a neighbour and before long, usually within just a few years, there is another small business that has sprung up out of the Mennonite community. Their expansion through southwestern Manitoba saw the creation of communities like Winkler, Plum Coulee, Rosenfeld, Altona. Many of those are in my riding of Portage—Lisgar.

I want to touch briefly on a couple of things. Mennonites not only have been through so much persecution, but one of the things that make Mennonites unique is Mennonite food. I do not know any other culture where a meal is deep-fried dough, which is called rollkuchen, and watermelon, which is arbus in German. Rollkuchen and arbus is what we would eat for supper, deep-fried dough and watermelon. If the dough was not sweet enough, we would dip it in a bit of syrup which is very good. Wareneki is cottage cheese which is boiled. We would have that with schmaundt fat and farmer sausage.

I also have to talk about the sense of humour of Mennonites and their love for music. At a Mennonite funeral we hear the most beautiful music ever from the congregation.

I want to close with some headlines from a wonderful website called The Daily Bonnet. This is Mennonite humour. If people are Mennonites they will get these headlines. I will not try to explain them, but I will read the headlines from The Daily Bonnet written by Andrew Unger from Steinbach. “Sound of Knacking Zoat Used as Mennonite Mating Call”. “Quilt Cartel Jacks up Prices at Mennonite Relief Sale”. “Left Lane Between Steinbach and Blumenort to be Designated 'Slow Minivan Lane'”. “New Bothwell Resident Arrested for Putting Processed Cheese on His Burger”. “Mennonites Rush to Get Their Cars Outside During Hail Storm”.

This is a good headline, “Dating Mennonite Couple Solidify Relationship By Sharing Co-op Number”. “Knackzoat Found in Last Summer’s Jean Shorts 'Still Perfectly Edible' Says Local Man”—

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Unfortunately, time is up.

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, can I ask for unanimous consent for one more?

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to give one more?

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Danke schön. That is Mennonite for one more. “Google Honours Mennonites with Farmer Sausage Logo”, which is not true.

I am so proud of Mennonites.

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


MaryAnn Mihychuk Liberal Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to recognize and support Motion No. 111 to declare the second week of September as Mennonite heritage week, an overdue recognition of the Mennonite communities and their important contributions to Canada.

Mennonites fled Europe as refugees. They fled persecution. They fled because they had beliefs that others did not. They were persecuted because they were pacifists and they moved from one country to another. In 1566, the Mennonites were scattered over Germany because of the persecution of their culture. The very first group of Mennonites to arrive in Manitoba came from eastern Europe. When I go door to door and meet many Mennonites in my community, they say proudly that they came from Ukraine and can share that history. As we know, many Mennonites came from Russian-occupied Ukraine, where their homes and properties were confiscated.

Mennonites arrived in reserves in 1874. They had a special agreement with the Government of Canada and settled on reserves on the east and west sides of the Red River. In 1923, the federal government opened its doors to Mennonite immigration and communities were eager to find new lives on the Canadian Prairies. Between 1923 and 1929, over 25,000 Mennonites managed to immigrate to Canada.

Through selfless action, the Mennonite community is known for its service to the community. Mennonite families and organizations have worked tirelessly to settle newcomers to Canada and their work deserves to be recognized and appreciated. These are people willing to give of their own time, their own savings and their own dedication. They go out of their way to help other refugees and immigrants settle in Canada.

In fact, the Mennonite community is one of the largest private refugee sponsorship groups in Canada. Today, almost 200,000 Mennonites call Canada their home. Winnipeg has one of the largest urban Mennonite populations in the world, with more than 20,000 Mennonites and 45 Mennonite churches. There are over seven in my riding alone.

Many of my constituents in Kildonan—St Paul's Mennonite community have a dedicated history of supporting and welcoming newcomers, sponsoring hundreds of new Canadian families since the private refugee sponsorship began. Many families are very concerned about the individuals fleeing the United States and looking for a haven in Canada, with tolerance, being open-minded and questioning why anybody would want to block the border at Emerson or look at somehow blocking people from coming to Canada, saying that their history and tradition is one of opening their arms and welcoming people to Manitoba, not blocking them. I find this particularly heartwarming and fitting, given that this year is also the 40th anniversary of the private refugee sponsorship program.

By the end of the Vietnam War, the Mennonite Central Committee negotiated a groundbreaking agreement with Ottawa to match Vietnamese refugees with private sponsors and brought them to Canada as permanent residents. Based on these agreements, the federal government introduced the private refugee sponsorship program, allowing groups of five eligible to sponsor refugees directly. Even now, there are families and organizations asking if Canada would increase the number of refugees and private sponsorships that Canada would take.

From 1979 until 2018, approximately 12,000 people arrived in Canada through MCC Canada's private refugee sponsorship program. That is a program that helped individuals with intense needs, with no cost to government, often providing the supports necessary for those families to be on their feet and proudly paying taxes within months, something we can aspire to and support 100%.

It is only through dedicated partners, such as the Mennonite Central Committee, that our Liberal government was able to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees who were escaping conflict. Many of them live in Kildonan—St. Paul, and many of them are members of the local Mennonite church. They are active members and volunteers, building community hand in hand. As noted by a Winnipeg Free Press article published on the anniversary of the private refugee sponsorship program, “many of the time also came as immigrants to this country and in refugee-like situations.... [We're] absolutely playing it forward.” That is a philosophy we see in Kildonan—St. Paul.

Winnipeg's Mennonites have contributed greatly to Canadian society, helping to build our city and grow our multicultural community. The Mennonite community in Winnipeg built the Mennonite hospital, now known as Concordia Hospital, which is in northeast Winnipeg. It was run, funded, carried and supported by the Mennonite community. Unfortunately, it is now going through drastic changes, and many members of the community are looking to support that facility, as it has been very special to them from the time they created and supported it.

In my hometown of Winnipeg, the Mennonite community has established many well-known, reputable manufacturing companies, such as Price Industries, Loewen Windows and Palliser Furniture. They make a point of providing an opportunity for indigenous people, refugees and women to work. The charity and goodwill of Mennonites, and their ability to help, occurs not only at home with charities but also in the workplace. Some of us may have taken a Triple E motorhome or trailer on a camping trip or have put in excellent Loewen windows or doors, which are perhaps, I would argue, the finest in the world.

I remember listening to a group of these very entrepreneurial business owners from the Morden-Winkler area. They made a commitment to create a job for every single graduate from their local high schools. That became a reality. Instead of watching young people move away from their communities, they built the resources and built the dream. They have probably doubled the population in their cities since they came to me. At that time, I was the provincial minister of industry, and we were looking to support the Mennonite community with its growth strategy. It is about compassion, entrepreneurship and making a difference.

Time-honoured, community-oriented, Mennonite-operated companies like the ones I mentioned have made contributions to small communities and large communities alike. In fact, one of them is part of a brand new industry. It is called Delta 9, and it is growing, very successfully, legalized cannabis in my area. We were very happy to help it out as well.

It is incredibly fitting that the second week of September was chosen to be Mennonite heritage week, as it is the traditional time when the Mennonite Central Committee's relief sales are held every year in Canada and the U.S. It is my hope that during this time, as we celebrate Mennonite heritage in Canada, we will work together in service of our communities and celebrate our diversity.

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

May 28th, 2019 / 7:15 p.m.


Jane Philpott Independent Markham—Stouffville, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise in the House to speak in support of Motion No. 111 put forth by the member for Abbotsford, which would declare the second week of September as Mennonite heritage week, as a time to recognize the contributions Canadian Mennonites have made to building Canadian society.

ln supporting this motion, I will share some details of Mennonite contributions to the history and heritage in my riding of Markham—Stouffville. Our region had been home to indigenous peoples for thousands of years. ln fact, one of the largest Huron-Wendat villages in North America stood on the boundary between Markham and Stouffville some 500 years ago.

Then in 1804, settlers, including Abraham Stouffer, his wife Elizabeth and her brother Peter Reesor, arrived from Pennsylvania. They transported their families and possessions in four large covered wagons, each drawn by four to six horses. They brought pigs, fowl, sheep, cows, oxen, housewares, farm implements and homemade food for the six-week journey.

They followed a path forged in 1615 by French free-spirit voyageur Étienne Brûlé. Within 10 years, another 55 families arrived from Pennsylvania and settled into the community. The vast majority of those families were Mennonite. The federal government soon abbreviated the name of the town to Stouffville to honour Abraham Stouffer and his family.

The early history of Markham—Stouffville is the story of Mennonites and pacifism. They were the first conscientious objectors in Canada's pre-history. ln the War of 1812, Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe exempted them from military service under the Militia Act of 1793. Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe was more interested in taking advantage of the significant Mennonite farming skills than in recruiting unenthusiastic soldiers. Mennonites helped our country's early leaders learn the gifts of tolerance and forbearance to develop a more broad-minded country.

ln modern times, as we confront existential threats like climate change, economic inequality, racism, violence and global instability, Mennonites offer us a blueprint to live productive lives full of hope, meaning and purpose. Specifically, they challenge us in five important ways.

Number one, Mennonites are known for addressing issues on both a local and a global scale. The Stouffville Care & Share Thrift Shop collects and sells local thrift goods, with all funds raised supporting local and international development and peace projects. Residents benefit from more choice and lower prices. At the same time, all funds raised support international development and relief. Everybody wins.

Number two, Mennonites move beyond their own personal stories of persecution and injustice to help the persecuted and afflicted. Abraham Stouffer's ancestors were expelled from Switzerland in a climate of religious intolerance in 1709. That was the backdrop for a life of courage and faithfulness. Today, Mennonites in Stouffville have an inspiring track record of supporting the persecuted through their work with international refugees. During the Syrian refugee crisis, 1,500 refugees were resettled by Canadian Mennonites over just 12 months, from 2015 to 2016. Mennonite commitment to religious freedom is borne out in words and actions.

Number three, Mennonites work together collaboratively on common goals with a shared sense of purpose. They work in partnership and community. This is a model for how we, in the House of Commons, could work better across party lines to deal with the entrenched challenges of our generation. We can learn and then practise an ethic of caring and sharing our hardships with friends and neighbours, to improve our quality of life and increase our sense of community. As parliamentarians, we can follow Mennonite examples of barn-raising collaboration to bring effective solutions to our most pressing challenges.

Number four, Mennonites have modelled the importance of working through shared values. The transformative power of shared values brings a sense of urgency, belonging, legitimacy and healing to our communities. Our shared values allow us to build communities grounded in compassion and service. For example, a local Mennonite woman in Stouffville recently received a provincial Trillium grant to build a three-season structure to host indigenous reconciliation programming, including the KAIROS blanket exercise workshop.

Number five, we can celebrate the Mennonite model of a strong work ethic and sense of industriousness. For over 200 years, Mennonite farmers have tilled the soil of Markham—Stouffville, managing farm resources, taking risks, growing food, feeding cities and raising families. Seventy-five farms, many of which are run by Mennonite farmers, are now part of the Rouge National Urban Park, our country's newest national park, which will hugely benefit from Mennonite industriousness and superior farming skills.

My riding of Markham—Stouffville has vastly benefited from 200 years of Mennonite industriousness and community. Mennonites built a community with deep interlocking roots. Their zeal for justice and peace translated into lives of service, compassion and mutual assistance. The crest of the top of the Whitchurch-Stouffville coat of arms is the dove of peace, another Mennonite contribution to our rich town history.

Finally, while my husband and I were both raised in the Presbyterian Church, we started attending our local Mennonite congregation a few years after we moved to Stouffville. We eventually became members of the Community Mennonite Church, because we were inspired by the focus on peace, social justice and care for the environment.

With that, members can understand even more of why I am happy to stand in support of Motion No. 111 to establish Mennonite heritage week so we can honour the important legacy that Mennonites have made to Canadian history and culture.

Mennonite Heritage WeekPrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank all my colleagues in the House for engaging in this discussion about the motion that would declare Mennonite heritage week the second week of September. I appreciate the different perspectives and the diversity of the Mennonites that have been highlighted and profiled in the House.

In my closing remarks, I would like to profile how the Russian Mennonites, which is where my family fits in, came to Canada. They came to Canada through an organization called the Mennonite Central Committee, which is the pre-eminent relief organization for Mennonites. Virtually every Mennonite denomination around the world is a member of this organization, which we refer to as MCC.

It is a global inter-Mennonite, non-profit organization that strives to share God's love and compassion through relief, development and peace building. Its mission is perfectly expressed in the words of Menno Simons, a prominent figure during the Reformation after whom the Mennonites are named. His words and Gospel message have been paraphrased and put to music by my good friend and well-known Mennonite composer, Larry Nickel.

True evangelical faith cannot lie sleeping
For it clothes the naked
It comforts the sorrowful
It gives to the hungry, food
And it shelters the destitute.
It cares for the blind and lame
The widow and orphan child
It binds up the wounded man
It offers a gentle hand...
Abundantly we have received
And gratefully we will respond
With true evangelical faith...

Founded in 1920, MCC's original goal was to provide food to starving Mennonites in Soviet Russia and Ukraine. In Canada, a few years later, MCC took on the job of resettling Russian Mennonites who were facing persecution and starvation and found themselves displaced in post-World War II Germany and elsewhere.

The story begins with a man by the name of C.F. Klassen, a visionary Canadian Mennonite leader who recognized the plight of the Mennonites in Russia and embarked upon a mission to colonize the homeless Mennonites in Canada. His Motto in German was Gott kann, or God can. In other words, with God, nothing is impossible.

C.F. Klassen travelled to Germany, seeking out displaced Mennonites and offering them help through MCC. His son and daughter-in-law, Herb and Maureen, later retold his story. The eager refugees gathering around Klassen bombarding him with questions were surprised to discover that he could tell them all about their relatives in Canada, which town or village they had settled in, what they were working at and the names of their children. How could this be?

They also heard that Klassen had already helped thousands of Mennonites flee Russia during the 1920s. He had a difficult task, often involving difficult citizenship issues and tricky negotiations with government authorities in trying to get Mennonites' permission to come to Canada.

Klassen's name now became a harbinger of hope for thousands, as they passed through war-torn west Germany with those words on their lips, Gott kann, God can. When all human efforts failed, he pointed people to a God who always cared for the orphan, homeless and the destitute. Although he often spoke to military and government officials regarding his peoples' plight, he brought compassion, care and understanding to each one he met, especially those in the refugee camps.

I will close by noting that when I gave my original remarks, as usual when one tries to summarize the history of a group of people, a number of key contributors fell through the cracks. I mentioned athletes, musicians, artists, writers, business people and politicians even who had distinguished themselves in Canada who are all Mennonites. However, I missed a few very important ones, for example, Grammy Award-winning operatic tenor Ben Heppner and concert and recital soprano Edith Wiens, both being products of British Columbia; and, finally, author Rudy Wiebe, who is known for his novel Peace Shall Destroy Many.

I am very grateful for the support I have received in the House for declaring the second week of every September Mennonite heritage week.